April 2, 2013
The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's tennis team (13-4, 4-1 Big Ten) heads to the Land of Lincoln this weekend. U-M is schedule to play Illinois Saturday (April 6) and No. 14 Northwestern Sunday (April 7). Both matches start at noon CDT.
This weekend's dual matches will be a contest for the best-of-seven team points. The dual will begin with three doubles matches consisting of eight-game pro sets. The team that wins two of these three matches will enter the singles competition with one of seven points. After a brief intermission, six singles matches will be played. Each singles match will be the best of three tie-break sets and worth one point towards the team competition. The overall dual match will be decided when one team secures four total points. Singles matches in progress when the dual match is clinched will be played to completion.
U-M moved up to No. 8 in this week's ITA rankings after a 2-1 week that included wins over then-No. 16 Notre Dame (5-2) and No. 17 Purdue (6-1). The Wolverines have been in the top 10 ever since knocking off No. 2 Duke on March 1.
Michigan, which will face No. 14 Northwestern on Sunday (April 7), is 7-3 this season against ranked opponents. U-M has won four in a row over top-25 competition.
Sophomore Emina Bektas has won nine consecutive singles matches. She is 13-3 in dual matches this season. All but one of her wins has been at the No. 1 position.
Michigan has not played at Northwestern since a 4-3 win over the Wildcats on April 3, 2010. Michigan's win ended NU's Big Ten winning streak of 81 matches, which dated back to 2004. NU leads the all-time series against Michigan, 47-10. The Wildcats defeated Michigan, 4-3, last season at the VTC to snap Michigan's 31-match Big Ten winning streak.
U-M knocked off Illinois twice last year, a 6-1 at the Varsity Tennis Center during the regular season and 4-0 during the Big Ten Tournament. U-M leads the all-time series with the Illini, 27-11.
U-M is now in a three-way tie for second in the Big Ten with a 4-1 conference record. The Wolverines are tied with Purdue and Northwestern. Nebraska currently leads the conference with a perfect 5-0 record.
With a 5-2 win at Notre Dame on March 27, Michigan wrapped up the non-conference portion of the regular season with a 9-3 mark.
The Wolverines won all six singles matches against Purdue (March 30), just the third time this season U-M has swept all six matches. U-M turned the feat against Brown in the season opener (Jan. 26) and against Michigan State (Feb. 27).
U-M is 7-2 this season at the Varsity Tennis Center. Michigan has three regular-season matches remaining at the VTC.
After a 1-1 mark in Big Ten matches last weekend against Purdue and Indiana, U-M is now 52-4 in conference matches under head coach Ronni Bernstein.
Michigan features three ranked singles players in sophomore Emina Bektas (No. 20), freshman Ronit Yurovsky (No. 39) and sophomore Sarah Lee (No. 76). On the doubles side, Bektas and junior Brooke Bolender are the No. 2 pair in the country, with Yurovsky and Lee ranking No. 49.
With the ITA National Team Indoor Championships complete, college tennis is back to regular scoring in doubles. Prior to the national championships and at the tournament, teams were using no-ad scoring. Also, tiebreakers were used at 7-7, as opposed to 8-8.
Michigan has already had three players take home Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week honors this season in sophomore Sarah Lee, freshman Ronit Yurovsky and sophomore Emina Bektas. Yurovsky has won the award twice.
The Wolverines welcome back five of their top singles players from last season in senior Mimi Nguyen, junior Brooke Bolender and the sophomore trio of Sarah Lee, Emina Bektas and Kristen Dodge. All five Wolverines recorded at least 23 singles victories, led by Lee and Bektas each totaling 32.
Brooke Bolender will serve as Michigan's team captain this season. It is her first season as captain and the first time since the 2009-10 season that U-M will be captained by a junior.
Senior Mimi Nguyen is the team's lone senior this season, marking the second straight season that Michigan has featured just one senior.
Since taking over the Wolverines in 2007-08, U-M is 56-6 at the Varsity Tennis Center under head coach Ronni Bernstein. In her sixth season at Michigan, Bernstein is 117-35 as the leader of the Wolverines.
The Wolverines are coming off their third straight Big Ten championship and NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 2012. U-M went 21-8 last season, finishing with a No. 14 ranking. It was also U-M's third consecutive 20-win season. Three of Michigan's five 20-win seasons have occurred under head coach Ronni Bernstein.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Associate Head Coach
On her most memorable moment at Michigan ... " Probably the first time we won the Big Ten title in 2010. We had a great core group of four juniors that year that worked extremely hard and really established a great culture for Michigan Tennis. They set the standard for our program and helped us reach our goal almost quicker than I expected us to. To see that team get rewarded for all their efforts was pretty amazing. A close second would have to be outrunning Brooke Bolender in a game of lightning ball. She can't catch me!"
On working with head coach Ronni Bernstein ... "Working with Ronni has been awesome, and I feel fortunate to have her as a mentor. She has given me a ton of responsibility within the program, which has really allowed me to develop as a coach. We also get along really well and we keep it fun. Working with Ronni is a big part of why we've stayed here at Michigan for so long."
On the highlight of her own tennis career ... "Definitely winning the team titles in college. I played a ton of team sports growing up, but after focusing on tennis in high school, I really craved the team atmosphere again. I had great teammates and coaches and it was so fun to be able to share it with all of them."
On how she is on the court as a player ... " I was an all-court player and pretty aggressive. I loved hitting on the run and turning defense into offense (though sometimes a little too often)."
On what working at Michigan means to her ... "Working at Michigan has been an unbelievable experience for me and my family. I always knew that I wanted to get into college coaching since I enjoyed my own college experience so much. To be a part of a community that is so passionate about their sports and traditions has made my time here that much more meaningful. Ann Arbor has been a great place to start our family and we feel lucky to be part of such a great community."
Saturday, April 6 -- at Illinois (Champaign, Ill.), Noon CDT
Sunday, April 7 -- at Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.), Noon CDT